For many homeowners, living rooms used to be stuffy showcases, filled with “no touch” items, stiff chairs, and vacuum lines in the carpets. For the 21st century family, those days of uppity living rooms are long gone.
Today, living rooms are intended to be exactly what they sound like: rooms where families and friends “live”.
A living room should be a space that is welcoming and calls you and your loved ones to gather, unwind, and enjoy some quality time together. It should also be a place where you can kick back, put your feet up, and relax before you turn in for the night.
The center of holidays and ordinary days, the living room is one of the most frequently used – and important – rooms in the house.
Whether you’re moving into a new home or you want to update the existing space, here’s a look at some great design tips that will help you turn your living room into the favorite room in your home.
Make a Plan
When it comes to living room design, a lot of people make the mistake of running out and purchasing a bunch of furnishings and accessories and then try to figure out how to fit everything together.
While shopping for home goods is certainly exciting, before you start buying things, make sure you have a solid plan in place. You probably have a vision for the space, but in order to successfully make that vision become a reality, you need to start with a plan.
Family game nights, casual parties, holiday events, and just sitting back and relaxing with a good book or catching up on your favorite TV shows, the living room is the site of so many different activities.
As such, when you’re planning your living room design, make sure that you take all of the ways you’ll be using the space into consideration. In other words, think about what “living” means to you and your family and then create a design that can help you achieve just that.
Create a layout and plan for the furniture and fixtures that caters to your lifestyle. For example, you might want to create a “media” area, which would include a TV, video game systems, and other gadgets and gizmos that your family will be using in the space, a space where you can play games, and perhaps even a reading nook.
Think about how you intend on using the space and then create a plan that caters to how your family lives.
Define the Space with Area Rugs
Even if your living room is carpeted, area rugs are great additions to a living room. In a living room that has a lot of square footage, you can use several area rugs to delineate different spaces.
For instance, use one area rug in your media area and another in the spot you plan on using to socialize. Of course, if you’re using multiple area rugs, it’s important to choose colors and patterns that coordinate. If your living room is small, an area rug can be used to ground the space and increase the aesthetic appeal.
Whether you’re using one or several area rugs, it’s important to take the size into consideration. An area rug that’s too small for the space, the room will end up looking disjointed, but if it’s too large, it can eat up the room and call attention away from other focal features.
Measure the room and the locations where you’re planning on placing an area rug (or rugs). Ideally, you should have between 10 and 20 inches of bare (or carpeted) floor between the edges of the rug and the walls.
Invest in Comfortable Seating
Like we said, the days of stiff arm chairs and settees covered with delicate fabrics are over. If you want your living room to invoke comfort, you’re going to want to invest in comfortable furniture that you can really “live” on.
For example, a plush, oversized, supportive, and well-constructed couch covered with upholstery that feels good to sit (or lay) on, is sturdy and can withstand wear-and-tear, and features a color or pattern that ties in with the overall design of the space would instantly welcome anyone to relax for a while.
For additional seating, incorporate arm chairs, recliners, chaise lounges, and even oversized ottomans that can double as seating and storage. Again, choose pieces that are well-built, comfortable, and are covered with fabrics that can stand up to repeat use.
Make Use of Lighting
Lighting is important in any room, as it really affects the overall mood of the space and its use. Design experts recommend using a combination of high and low lighting, including general overhead lighting, lamps, sconces, and task lighting.
For overhead lighting, steer clear of a standard flush-mount fixture and instead, choose something that offers architectural interest; a chandelier made of wood and brass would be perfect if you’re going for a rustic design, while a suspended ceiling lamp that features a large, yet simple lampshade would tie in beautifully with a modern design.
Add in a mixture of lamps, including table and floor lamps to effectively illuminate different locations in the living room.
You might want to consider having pot lights installed and/or sconces installed, too, as they’re a great source of task lighting or can be used to highlight a focal feature.
Spice it Up with Personality
It doesn’t matter how perfect the layout is and how high-end and comfortable the furniture is, if the walls are empty, a living room is going to look incomplete and isn’t going to be as inviting as you’d like it to be.
Empty walls can make the space feel stark, so make sure to dress them up. Plus, decorative accessories are a great way to share your family’s store. After all, it’s a living room, so it’s fitting to add elements that share how you and your family live.
There are a variety of decorative accessories that you can display on the walls, including framed photographs of your loved ones or your favorite destinations, paintings, trinkets you and your family have picked up during your travels displayed on wall shelves, tapestries, maps, murals, wood carvings; the options really are endless.
When choosing the artwork for your living room walls, make sure that it ties in with the overall look and feel you are trying to create. And a word of caution: while you don’t want the walls to be barren, you also don’t want them to be too busy, as too many accessories hanging on the walls will make the space look cluttered.
Bring in Tables
Tables are a must for a living room. They provide surfaces where you can set down drinks and snacks, spread out a board game or play a game of cards, provide a space to set task lighting, and can be used to display decorative accents.
Of course, a coffee table will be the central table in your living room. In fact, a coffee table can serve as the focal point for the entire space, as its set against the backdrop of the seating.
Choose an appropriately sized coffee table; something that coordinates with the size of your coach. You don’t want it to be so large that it becomes cumbersome, but you also don’t want it to be so small that it gets lost in the room.
When selecting your coffee table, it’s also important to consider its shape and lines, as well as the materials it’s constructed of.
Flank your couch or chairs with accent tables to provide additional surfaces to set items down on and to display lamps and decorative elements.
For a cohesive look, choose accent tables that coordinate with the style of the coffee table. Alternatively, if you want to mix things up and add more visual interest, you might want to consider using accent tables that tie in with the overall design of the coffee table, yet have a different shape, color, or are made of a different material, perhaps.
Bring in Soft Furnishings
Finish off the design of your living room with a combination of soft furnishings. Not only will they make the space feel more comfortable and inviting, but they also add another dimension of color and texture; plus, they’re great for lounging and taking an afternoon cat nap.
Use an assortment of throw pillows on your couches and chairs; opt for a variety of sizes, colors, and textures to create a more “lived-in” look; however, you don’t want to overdo it.
If you have too many pillows, the space may look too busy and you’ll spend a lot of time readjusting them. For additional floor seating, consider bringing in some oversized pillows that you can pull out on game nights and tuck away when they aren’t in use.
Don’t forget throw blankets, too! Drape blankets made of plush, cozy fabrics on the back of sofas and chairs and across ottomans (which can also double as storage for extra pillows and blankets.)